GroundUp
3 minute read
25 Oct 2019
7:05 am

Shady tale of the Lottery boss, his wife, unbuilt rehab and large deposits

GroundUp

The payments into the Denzhe account are the second time Phillemon Letwaba, the National Lotteries Commission COO, has been linked to Denzhe.

Left: Phillemon Letwaba, National Lotteries Commission COO (photo from NLC website). Right: Lesley Ramulifho, Lottery recipient (photo from Instagram).

A company, of which the wife of the chief operating officer of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) is sole director, appears to have deposited money four times into the account of a controversial nonprofit organisation (NPO) that has received millions of rands in Lottery funding.

Yet Daisy Letwaba, via her lawyers, has denied the payments were made, even though bank statements indicate they were.

Bank statements for the NPO, Denzhe Primary Care, show four deposits in the name of “Letwaba Energy” totalling R165,000 between July 28 and August 21, 2017.

Letwaba is the wife of the NLC’s COO Phillemon Letwaba and director of Letwaba Energy and Petroleums. Phillemon was a director from March 2012 until he resigned five years later.

The NLC paid R27.5 million into Denzhe’s accounts to develop a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria. But the project, which has come to a grinding halt, is now the subject of litigation. The NLC ignored a request for comment.

Attorney Lesley Ramulifho has apparently used the project’s bank accounts as his personal ATM.

The first payments by Letwaba Energy – R35,000 and R15,000 – were followed by payments from the account that helped cover what appear to be mainly construction-related goods and services. There are also many payments from the account that appear to be personal, as well as cash withdrawals.

By August 3, 2017, the balance had dropped to R1,596.41 – Letwaba Energy made a R100,000 deposit the next day. Again, this was followed by a series of mostly construction-related payments from the account. But by August 15, the account had R6,647.87, until Ramulifho once again topped it up with R15 000.

By August 19 the account balance had dropped to just R2,572.29. But R29,500 was deposited: R15,000 from Letwaba Energy and R10,000 and R4,500 by Ramulifho.

By August 28, the account balance had dropped to R1,403.13 – until Ramulifho topped it up with R33,000 and R5,000.

It is unclear why a company connected to the COO of the NLC would make deposits into the bank account of a nonprofit organisation that is the recipient of lottery grants.

Letwaba Energy, via their lawyers, has denied that the company made the deposits. Phillemon is also suing Raymond Joseph, Nathan Geffen, the editor of GroundUp, and Community Media Trust for defamation after we raised questions about Letwaba’s possible conflicts of interest.

The payments into the Denzhe account are the second time Letwaba has been linked to Denzhe.

GroundUp previously reported how Denzhe signed a R15 million building contract in October 2016 to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria with Upbrand Properties.

At the time, Letwaba’s brother, Johannes Kgomotso, was registered as a director of Upbrand. The company was registered in January 2016, eight months before it landed the contract.

Johannes Letwaba subsequently resigned on March 1, 2017. But while he was a director, Upbrand received at least four payments totalling R3.5 million.

In January 2018, after Johannes resigned, there were further payments of a million rands.

Asked previously whether the Upbrand contract constituted a conflict of interest, Phillemon initially denied that any of his family members were involved.

However, in a later media release, the NLC confirmed that “Denzhe subsequently went on to appoint a construction service provider which was at the time associated with the brother of the COO. On discovering the potential conflict of interest, the COO engaged his brother to resign his directorship”.

  • GroundUp has published this article in partnership with The Citizen.

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